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Arto Mustajoki

Arto Samuel Mustajoki
Born, December 20, 1948, Tampere
Four children, 11 grandchildren

Master of Arts 1970 (German Philology), PhD 1981 (Russian language), University of Helsinki

Professor of Russian Language and Literature 1982–2016, University of Helsinki
Vice-Rector 1992–1998, University of Helsinki
Dean 1988–1992 and 2014–2016, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki
Member of the Board of the Academy of Finland 2001–2006, 2014-
Chair of the Research Council for Culture and Society (Academy of Finland) 2001–2006
Chair of the Board of the Academy of Finland 2010–2014
Vice-President of Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 2006-2008, President 2008-2010
Member of the Finnish Research and Innovation Council 2011-2015
International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature (MAPRYAL), Member of Board 1981–, Secretary General 1991–2003, Vice-President 2003–

Research Student, Leningrad State University 1971–1973
Visiting Fellow, Cambridge University 1990–1991
Invited guest lectures abroad: Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Saratov, Simferopol, Almaty, Ulan-Bataar, Bishkek, Tartu, Tallinn, Budapest, Warsaw, Sofia, Basel, Oxford, Gothenburg

Recent publications

Full list of publications as of 2008

Publications in PDF-format

The most cited publication

Curriculum Vitae

Honours and awards
“Orden Druzhby Narodov,” President Gorbatshov 1990
Member of Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 1991
Commander's Cross of the Order of the Lion of Finland 1992
Honorary Doctor, Russian Academy of Science 1995
Honorary Professor, Moscow State University 1999
“Orden Druzhby,” President Medvedev 2010
Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland 2013

Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Written by Arto Mustajoki
Revised by Matthew Billington

My way to administration

In the early years of my academic career, I was very critical towards university leaders and the administration. Then I realised that it was too easy to shout from the sidelines when you were unwilling to bear responsibility for common affairs yourself. Gradually I was elected and selected to various academic positions. All these duties and obligations have given me a real opportunity to influence Finnish research and university politics.

One of the incentives for taking part in administration has been the opportunity to learn new things. As a matter of fact, meeting people outside your own department and discussing issues with which you are only very superficially familiar expands your horizons. It is useful to realise how limited and one-sided your expertise and knowledge is. As a dean and vice-rector, I have learnt a lot about other research fields and their methodology. Even in very closely related disciplines (in my case literary studies), methods and traditions of conducting research may differ substantially. By using this experience I have tried, when appropriate, to “steal” ideas from other fields for use in my own research.

At the Academy of Finland, which is the main state-owned funder of research, I have learnt how difficult it is to find plausible and reliable criteria for identifying the best funding applications. By taking part, in different capacities, in various research assessments I have enriched my understanding of methods and their limitations in this challenging area. I have been forced to think of the special position of the social sciences and the humanities when one wants to find bibliometric indicators for research assessments. As a matter of fact, there are three options here for researchers in SSH fields (cf. my chapter Measuring Excellence in Social Sciences and Humanities: Limitations and Opportunities in the book Global university rankings: Challenges for European higher education):

1. Building our own camp by arguing that it is different. According to this view, it is not possible to use bibliometric methods in assessing our work, and peer review is the only acceptable method of research assessment in SSH fields.

2. Adopting the publication practices of the Natural Sciences by changing our own traditions.

3. Taking part in the creation of new bibliometric methods which take into account the specificity of SSH.

I prefer the last option.

My book chapter can be found here.

Different administrative positions have given me the opportunity to meet Finnish and Russian politicians. When you attend meetings of the Research and Innovation Council chaired by the Prime Minister you understand how little they comprehend about research and universities. Then you realise that the reverse is also true: how little a university professor understands about politics. You may argue that politicians should learn to understand us, but it is an unrealistic demand, because they have dozens and dozens of other things to understand. Thus, the only option is that we university people learn a new language when speaking to politicians.

Work as a representative of Finland on the Standing Committee of Humanities at the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) has been a window into differences and similarities in the European cultural context. When attending the meetings, I have been unable to avoid studying the course of the discussions and decision-making as a linguist: who the most influential person round the table is, who has the best command of English, who comes from the biggest country, who can express themselves in the most convincing way. From what I have seen, language command, as such, is not so relevant.

For me, a very important eye-opening collective has been the Presidium of the International association of Russian teachers (MAPRYAL). Members of the presidium come from a variety of different countries (from China to the US, from Spain to Kazakhstan), and we hold our meetings and congresses in these countries. Through my co-members at the Presidium, I have gained a greater appreciation not only of how to teach Russian but also about what is happening in the world.

After being involved in administration at various levels, I have realised that the most demanding job is to be head of a department. In this capacity you see colleagues every day who are affected by your decisions.


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